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Back at the ranch

NDSF Ranch Rodeo brings great fun in night one

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Ranch Rodeo participants sit atop their horses as they listen to "God Bless America." Arrow B Ranch of Willow City won the competition with 55 points.

Darrell Oswald makes it a point to come back to Minot and judge the Ranch Rodeo every year. He gets to see some people he hasn’t seen in a while, so he’s more than willing to make the 110-mile trip north from Wing. He judges some other rodeos around the state, but there’s something special about the State Fair competition at the All Seasons Arena.

“It’s a big deal because there are a lot of teams here,” Oswald said. “A lot of quality teams. Of course, it’s generally a good event and you get a lot of people here to watch.”

Hundreds of fans packed the arena to watch 12 teams compete in five different ranch hand competitions (Steer Mugging, Range Branding, Wild Cow Milking, Trailer Loading and Trailer Relay). The crowd-pleaser brings consistent entertainment to the State Fair, and last night’s festivities were no exception.

“It is a good deal,” Oswald said. “It’s great for the crowd and exciting for the crowd to see. I think that is what makes people come back.”

Teams earn points corresponding with their recorded time to complete the various rounds. Cowboys and cowgirls attempted to corral steers, milk cows and load trailers as quickly as possible.

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Last Round Up Ranch team members control a steer in the Steer Mugging competition. The team traveled from Palermo to compete in the event.

All teams hailed from North Dakota. In a surprising twist, both Arrow B Ranch (Willow City) and Ranch Hands (Palermo) scored 55 points, which tied for the competition’s lead. The final decision came down to time recorded, and Arrow B took home the title.

The team of Wade Skaar, Jeff Ruud, Garrett Holsher and Shane Pappa finished in the top four of every competition, including first or second place in the first four. Dokken Construction and B&J Excavating (Towner) earned third place, while Wisness Ranch (Keene) finished in fourth.

Announcer Shannon Dean praised the competitors’ persistence. He consistently cited their “sticktoitiveness” as a reason for their success.

The Apple Dumpling Gang (Douglas) and White Buffalo Bar & Grill (Granville) went toe-to-toe in the night’s most exhilarating Trailer Relay race. White Buffalo won by a nose, posting a score of 1:21.59 to Apple Dumpling’s 1:22.14.

Apple Dumpling team captain Eli Waddington worked with teammates Angela, Cornelia and Christy Jestice at the rodeo.

Eli’s girlfriend and her sister cheered him on. The event was a family affair, as his brother Isaac also came from Douglas to root for his sibling. As Isaac prepared for his second Ranch Rodeo outside of the arena, he acknowledged the enjoyment he gets watching his brother and his stiff competition.

“I like seeing what these horses can do,” Eli said. “I like seeing the roping and all that, and it is kind of funny to see how excited people get.”

The Mutton Bustin’ competition served as a pre-show to the rodeo. Young cowboys and cowgirls attempted to stay atop their sheep for as long as possible in the event. Jerol Gohrick held on for 2.6 seconds, good enough for the competition’s title.

The Ranch Rodeo continues tonight at 7 p.m. in All Seasons Arena.

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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